‘Cry for peace’ to educate

Internationally acclaimed theatrical director and interdisciplinary artist Ping Chong will be on campus to speak at Oswego State’s Global Awareness Conference Friday Nov. 2 at 3 p.m. in the basement of Hart Hall.

Chong, creator of an innovative production series called Undesirable Elements, will kick off the conference speaking about “Community-Based Theatre and Social Justice.” Raised in Chinatown, home to New York City’s largest Asian population, Chong understood from an early age what it meant to be considered “other.” His early experiences led to a fascination with examining individual identity, the concept of the “other” within a large mainstream community and the unique issues that arise within every community’s culture.

For each Undesirable Elements project, Chong interviews members of a specific community and builds a performance script from their experiences. A small group is then chosen, usually compromised of five to seven individuals, who present their own stories onstage. The “hosts” are never professional actors and, for many, this is their first public speaking experience. This gives Elements productions the distinction of being neither plays nor works of documentary theatre.

Co-written by award winning playwright Kyle Bass, “Cry for Peace: Voices from the Congo” is the latest installment in this series. The project began when Congolese refugee and Syracuse resident Cyprien Mihigo came to Bass’s office with the idea of creating a fictional play about the crisis in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Bass, in turn, placed a call to Chong, with whom he had collaborated in the past.

From those early conversations, the idea emerged for a new work that would relate the actual experiences of local Congolese refugees, while helping to heal wounds of that community left by decades of civil war.

The premiere video screening of “Cry for Peace: Voices from the Congo” will take place Friday Nov 2 at 7 p.m. in Oswego State’s Waterman Theatre. Director Ping Chong and co-writer Kyle Bass will be on hand to provide a personal introduction before the showing. Tickets are on sale for $5 at all campus box offices.